Kabasakalian scores twice as Panthers' season comes to an end
KEENE, N.H. – In a classic battle between in-state rivals, No. 2 Keene State College held off No. 3 Plymouth State University for a 5-3 victory to advance to the championship game of the Little East Conference (LEC) Field Hockey Tournament on Wednesday night.
Keene State (13-8) will be at home for Saturday's final (1:00 p.m.), as No. 4 Westfield State upset No. 1 Worcester State, 5-4, in the day's other semifinal. It was déjà vu all over again for the Panthers (12-6), who fell to the Owls in the semifinal round of the tournament for the second straight year.
"It was a classic PSU versus Keene match up," said head coach Bonnie Lord. "A strong game by both teams; hardworking, textbook goal scoring and continuous play between the two defenses. A total team effort with outstanding play by our three seniors."
Freshman Nina Bruno (Agawam, Mass.) put the home team up less than four minutes into the game, but the Panthers came back with a pair of goals from sophomore Maddie Kabasakalian (Kent, Conn.) in a 90-second span. The 5-1 forward tied the game at the 8:02 mark after tipping in a pass from senior Katie Martin (Waterbury Center, Vt.) following a penalty corner. Kabasakalian put the visitors in front at the 9:32 mark after deflecting a shot from junior Patty Newhard (South Dennis, Mass.) at the top of the circle on a set play out of another penalty corner.
Keene State rallied to even the score at two all in the 23rd minute. Sophomore Jensyn Dandeneau (Berlin, N.H.) wove through the Panther defense before slipping a shot past senior goalkeeper Alivia Bates (Pennsauken, N.J.).
The game remained tied through halftime, but Dandendau gave Keene a lead it would not relinquish just 55 seconds into the second half. The 5-4 forward curled a shot from just inside the circle past a diving Bates.
Five-and-a-half minutes later, Bruno added her second of the game, her 20th of the season, off a pass from Dandeneau to give the hosts some breathing room.
Freshman Haley Wakefield (South Paris, Maine) cut the deficit in half with 17 minutes left to play, notching her team-best 16th goal of the year with sophomore Georgia Drew (Portland, Maine) assisting, but Keene State cemented the win with three minutes to go when senior Kendal Brown (Belmont, Mass.) blasted a shot from the left side after a corner insert from junior Julia Babbitt (Haddam, Conn.).
It was an historic season on many levels for the Panthers. Wakefield's 16 goals were the 11th most in a season in program history, while Martin recorded the third most assists in a year (12) and moved into fifth place all-time with 24 career assists. In goal, Bates finishes the year with an .824 save percentage that is tops in the LEC and 16th highest in all of NCAA Division III. Her 1.30 goals against average for the season also topped the league and was 33rd best in the country. She ends her prolific career with 17 shutouts, the second most of all time.
Martin, Bates and Lily Davis (Boscawen, N.H.) put on the green and white for the final time in their careers.
"We were small in number, but mighty," added Lord. "The best conditioned team in the LEC. I'm proud of us."
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